Sonepar USA, a subsidiary of Sonepar Group, last week launched WATT – Women Advocating Today for Tomorrow, the company’s first employee resource group. The group originated at the company’s corporate headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina, where Tammy Livers, senior vice president of key accounts and the executive sponsor of WATT, says there is a significant percentage of female employees. The idea originated at happy hours and employee events, where talk turned to resource groups and what could be accomplished if they were organized.
The highlight of the group, Livers says, is its inclusiveness — there is no formal process to join. “It's open to everyone, males and females,” she says.
At WATT’s kickoff meeting in September, Sonepar North America President Rob Taylor talked about his daughters and why he is passionate about ensuring the company is a place where all kinds of different leaders want to work. The event featured a suggestion box and open dialogue on the goals and mission of the group.
WATT plans to hold at least one all-inclusive employee event per quarter. Featured topics will include how to be a leader in the workplace and how to influence others in a positive manner. “We want to be the vehicle for training on things like unconscious bias, how to build your personal brand, what leadership really means, how to develop a mentoring program,” says Livers.
The First of Many
In a press release announcing the formation of the group, Rob Taylor, president of Sonepar North America, says, “We are continuously working to provide an atmosphere for inclusion, diversity and mentorship to our associates. We hope that this is the first of many employee resource groups at Sonepar USA.”
WATT will serve as a template for potential resource groups at Sonepar’s other operating companies. The group plans to put together a how-to manual on employee resource groups, including how to create a mission and vision statement. “We're trying to make it as easy as possible,” says Livers.
There is a big appetite at Sonepar for networking and sharing best practices in a safe environment that a resource group can provide, she explains. “It's not a group of specific people that may look alike or think alike,” Livers adds. “It's really a group of people that are seeking input and ideas from the broader organization.”